What a Week!

By:
Published: November 4, 2012

Your Sunday paper covering the New Orleans Hornets looks at the packed first week of the 2012 – 2013 season.

Chiba Ice Cream Sunday: 20121104

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see
I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy
Because I’m “easy come, easy go”
Little high, little low
Any way the wind blows
Doesn’t really matter to me
To me

— Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody

Did any team in sports have the week the New Orleans Hornets had? Some may have come close, but none clearly topped them.

The Hornets went 2-1, which is typically unremarkable. Being very close to going 3-0 only slightly more worthy of note. Factor in that these were playoff teams last season who have not taken a step back, and we’re starting to take notice.

Now, take away all of Eric Gordon. Then, take away half of Anthony Davis.

Once you find out the wins were the game without Davis for at least a half, then all this officially interesting.

This doesn’t even touch the drama. We’ll get to that.

On the Court

The home opener was a 95-99 loss to San Antonio, but the following games were an 88-86 win over the visiting Jazz and the team’s first road win at Chicago, 89-82. The box scores from basketball reference include advanced stats, and these stats tell a story beyond that of the traditional box score, especially on the defensive end.

Celebrate the good news with some dessert. Go into Chiba on Oak Street sometime this week and show this to the staff: “Jason said Keith will give me a free dessert.” Order at least an entree without using any other discount, and the table will get a free dessert. It’s that simple, and it’s good.

Jumping off the page is how well Aminu played defensively, and how bad he is offensively, even when he appears to do better. Vasquez and Aminu had similar efficiencies and Aminu had more points in the same minutes, but Aminu’s ORtg is far lower than that of Vasquez. His DRtg, however, is the lowest of the Hornets with significant minutes, and only Leonard on the Spurs performed better.

Lopez also is being shown favorably.

It should be noted that the Hornets won the games with slower pace, lost the fastest paced of the three games. Does this indicate a real correlation or happenstance? Is this why the team plays slowly? Which is the cart and which is the horse?

Mason will have more Wednesday, but check out his recent power rankings to see how you think they need to change.

Off the Court

Off the court, the stories weren’t so happy. Eric Gordon, after resuming practicing following a game-free preseason, was declared to be indefinitely out on opening day. After a series of rumors that spanned a large range of possibilities, it was decided that Eric could likely return in 4 – 6 of rehab, avoiding surgery. There are no guarantees, but this is more encouraging than some of the rumors were.

My mind is open to any number of possibilities. It could be that there is residual damage from the bone bruise in his right knee, fragments from it, or something remaining from a prior injury. He was reportedly subject to an arthroscopic procedure, and that gave a chance for a visual inspection of at least a portion of the joint, so this is discounted. It could be a new injury occurred to the knee that was somehow weakened, though strong enough to play at the end of last season, mess about this summer or out try for the Olympic.

It could be cover for a trade demand or some other dissatisfaction, as the 6 week mark is near the point where he can be traded with his consent: December 15. Gordon has this protection for the duration of the season since his contract with us is a result of matching the offer from Phoenix while he was a restricted free agent. A second consequence of this is that the Hornets can not trade him to Suns while this contract is in effect. He can get there via a third team as a part of a subsequent deal. Additionally, he will have to consent to trades in the final year of his deal since he is a Bird player.

I’m sure there are other possibilities, but these cover the most discussed theories.

Partway through the game Friday, Davis left the game after a blow to the head. He was held out of the game after failing to satisfactorily answer questions associated with a concussion diagnosis tool. He did not board the plane to Chicago that night, and, thus, missed playing in that win. He has yet to be on the floor when his team actually won. Poor dude.

Coach weighed in colorfully on the issue. His main point seemed to be that players should have more of a say in their return. He could have also been motivated in Davis’ desire to play in his home of Chicago (queue the “he’s forcing a trade” murmurs).

Here is a summary of the policy:

  • As part of the policy, during the preseason every player in the NBA undergoes baseline neurological testing.
  • If a player is diagnosed with a concussion, he’s no longer allowed to play until cleared in consultation with the NBA’s director of the concussion program, Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan.
  • To gain clearance, a player must return to his symptom free neurological baseline, then complete a series of exertion tests, each growing in difficulty (from a stationary bike to jogging, to agility and individual basketball drills) remaining free of symptoms after each test.
  • There is no set amount of time that must pass between each exertion exercise. Testing is situation specific, and relies on the medical judgment of the doctors and other medical personnel involved.

Hornets Livin’

Some major changes happened this week with respect to how Hornets fans live their fan life.

First, Pepsi got the pour rights for the Arena, and local company evamor is the team’s water. So out with RC and Deja Blue, with Pepsi and evamor. Neither is listed on their sponsor page yet. Hopefully, PepsiCo will be a Crescent City Champion, a top level sponsor.

Second, Champions Square programming was activated. I went over there. It’s nice, and the walk over really is not bad at all. I saw Loomis and company out there, too. Check it out.

Third, there have been some adjustments to concession prices. The team highlights the decreases, but there was some increases in some cases.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly in terms of total effect, the team’s new TV deal kicked in. While there is still some issues and confusion to work out, particularly among those with Dish and in areas farther from New Orleans where providers are less likely to have picked up Fox Sports New Orleans, the deal is paying off. I was out Friday night at Chiba, and they just flipped the channel from ESPN to FSNO (1038 on Cox in New Orleans), and I watched the game in 720p while feeding my face with my wife and her salsa buddy. I got my dessert, too. Now, now, I know what you are thinking . . . but I gave my tickets to friends and they were all used.

This link will help Dish subscribers find Hornets games, but some subscribers are being told that Dish will not carry the games. We’ll be keeping an eye on this. In the meantime, to reach Dish’s customer service, call 888-284-7116, press 1, then press 0 until you reach a human. Ask them to put in a “channel request” for you if nothing else. If you are customer, use that leverage. If not and you want to help your fellow Hornets fans, tell them you are considering Dish, but Hornets games are a must. DirecTV carries the games and their sales number is 855-802-3473. Dish may respond if people are armed with such fact.

“Voices” of the Readers

Our readers are important to us. Here are a few reasons why:

I have a good idea for title of the next podcast: “In the No Podcast Episode 93: Aminu Makes Us Eat Our Words”. Or how about “Lopez aint as bad as we thought”. Seriously though im shocked and estatic about the way the hornets have performed thus far. Makes me think we maybe seeing the playoffs this year if EG gets some heart. If he wants to be traded he has to play some games. I dont want him gone but if he cant play thru minimum pain for the good of the team he has to go. Kobe would never sit out 4-6 weeks just because his knee was sore. This is coming from the #1 Laker Hater. Get well soon Brow!! — 9thWardInAtl

I try to not get too high or too low on this Hornet team, being that we have just a 3-game sample size, but there are some early observations that can be drawn from the start of the season. My biggest observation is that, if you’re a Hornets fan, you have to love the way our team plays. Wins and losses are ultimately how a team is judged and I get that, but this season should be more about establishing an identity than about actual wins and losses. If I had to put the Hornets’ early identity into words, it would read like this, “We may be out-athleted, and we may be out-talented, but we will not be out-hustled or out-worked.” That, to me, is a team that I can easliy cheer for. Make no mistake about it, this team will lose its fair share of games this year. Its part of the learning process, but if they can just maintain this style of play and this identity, you will see this young team endear itself to this community like no other Hornet team ever has. — Mikey

You know, I saw a lot of improvement from Rivers out there tonight. He needs to settle down and look for his shot more though. His most notable improvement to me was running the offense when the general wasn’t on the floor. He tends to set up at a spot and wait for the play to develop instead of making it, but on the occasions he did initiate the attack he had some gorgeous drive and kicks. It wasn’t the train wreck that was the first game. The kid will get better.

Also, what an exciting game! If our roster was fully healthy there is no doubt in my mind that we could be a playoff team this year. We have LITERALLY every single aspect you could want in a team at full strength. Lane penetration, outside shooting, offensive rebounding, post scoring, help defense, 1 on 1 defenders, defensive rebounding. It goes on and on.

Lastly, our ball movement this year is off the damn chain and we’re finally learning to push the ball in transition with our young legs. I love it. — ImSorryMonty

42 Sense

Hornets fans, this season, more than any other, is our season. Don’t let this drama take that from you. Each of us has earned the right to have a season about basketball with the pain we’ve felt for the past 2.5 years (at least). There are certainly little clouds in the sky, but don’t let the drama take over.

Focus on basketball.

Focus on the players and the franchise that wants to be here . . . for you.

19 Comments

  1. Nicholas

    November 4, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I am really happy with how the Hornets are playing so far. I live in Beaumont, TX so i was concerned that Time Warner wouldn’t let me watch it but i get the channel great. I don’t know about other people but i’m really interested in this name change and when will it be made official. Think we should keep a music theme like the old Jazz name. What about the New Orleans Rythem? cool name?

    • Mark

      November 4, 2012 at 10:36 pm

      How’s the fire hydrant there?

  2. Ron

    November 4, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    http://espn.go.com/nba/statistics/player/_/stat/scoring-per-48-minutes/league/west

    JSmith is most efficient per-minute scorer on Hornets.

    • 504ever

      November 4, 2012 at 11:13 pm

      And Lopez was the Hornet’s second most efficient scorer. Off to podcast 93!

  3. Ron

    November 4, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    I just noticed… only 8 players got significant minutes against the Bulls, and 9 against he Jazz.

    Will they gas out by March?

  4. NOEngineer

    November 4, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Aminu has surprised by being average in a unique way: Awesome at a couple of things, atrocious at others. They key is that he excels in things the fans of our team really appreciate: defense and alley-oops. I hope he learns to emulate Tyson Chandler by avoiding the things they both do poorly (shooting and dribbling).

    Lopez has been my biggest surprise. He always looked like a stiff when he played for Phoenix, so I wasn’t sold on his value. This year he is much more fluid than I remember. He is also much tougher than Emeka ever was. If he plays at this level throughout the year we should be a fringe playoff contender.

    I agree that the ball movement has been improved for the most part. Our big men are not swallowing the ball, but rather are passing it unless an immediate opening appears. That is much more fun to watch.

    Vasquez (that’s Vahskez not Vaskwez, thank you very much) has charged into the season with abandon. With pedal to the metal he is playing to his strengths and pushing the action. He is fun to watch, and the level of action makes it easy to forgive the occasional lapse. His combo 1-2 guard style is exactly what we need since we don’t have an experienced 1 or 2 to pair with him. It will be interesting to see whether other teams will scout this and whether he can adapt.

    Lastly, the Fox Sports broadcasting team is so refreshing. Still too wide on the camera angles which kills the HD for most of the game, but an immense improvement over the Cox version. This is a fabulous time to be a Hornets’ fan.

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